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England roommates Stoneman and Vince find rhythm in Ashes tour opener

• England 349-6 against Western Australia XI on day one of two
• Four half-centuries for tourists, but Cook and Root go cheaply

How to evaluate an opening day where England racked up 349 runs at a fair lick, against opposition with an average age of 22, who dropped more catches (five) than they took wickets (four, with two further retirements) and could seldom sustain pressure with the ball? Where there were four half-centuries for unestablished batsmen, but failures for the seasoned leaders, including Alastair Cook, to the tour’s second ball before a run had been scored?

Mark Stoneman, who top-scored with a stylish 85 and put on 153 with James Vince after Cook prodded at the WA XI’s captain Nathan Coulter-Nile (the one bowler of consistent quality England faced), was encouraged, and so he should be. He was one of those dropped, on 54 low at gully (an area England’s opposition stacked, sensing a weakness), but looked rhythmical, and straight-drove beautifully and cut powerfully, too. He had asserted in the week that he conditions should suit him here, and backed that up in his first innings, explaining how England’s preparation is moving through the gears.

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